QUEEN'S PARK — On Tuesday, London—Fanshawe MPP Teresa Armstrong, NDP critic for Children and Youth Services, tabled a bill to establish April 2 of every year as Autism Awareness Day in Ontario. She released the following statement:
“As elected officials, we have a responsibility to support people with autism from diagnosis into adulthood.
We need to be working to ensure that every individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder is provided the means to achieve a high quality of life as a respected member of our community. We need to work in partnership with those with lived experience to determine programming needs like needs-based therapy, supportive housing, respite care, mental health services and more. And these services should be accessible in the communities people call home.
Tens of thousands of kids and adults with autism across Ontario have repeatedly been let down by successive governments in this province. And I refuse to stand idly by while that continues to happen.
The NDP and I are going to continue to fight for a fully needs-based Ontario Autism Program. Government after government have hurt families and limited children’s lives with cuts and restrictions to this program, and it’s got to stop.
I’m hoping that by establishing a provincial day of awareness, we as a collective can recommit to learning more about Autism Spectrum Disorder and working toward equity and equality.”
Angela Brandt, president of the Ontario Autism Coalition:
“Ontario proclaiming this day will highlight the need to improve services for people living with autism; thereby, improving the quality of life of those with autism so they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society. The Ontario government dismantled the Ontario Autism Program over two years ago and has left over 40,000 children waiting for life-changing therapy.”
Sara Kitlar-Pothier, parent of a child with autism in northern Ontario:
“This is a start to acknowledging the real work required to achieve autism acceptance and inclusion. Accessing clinically recommended supports and therapies for families like mine, who live in Northern Ontario, can feel impossible at times. Awareness is nice, action is better.”